Cygnet Newbus Grange placed into special measures

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated Cygnet Newbus Grange in Darlington, County Durham, ‘inadequate’ overall and placed the service into special measures. 

Cygnet Newbus Grange is a mental health hospital that provides assessment, care and treatment for patients with a primary diagnosis of autism, learning disabilities and complex needs. The hospital, operated by Cygnet Limited and part of the Cygnet Health Care group, has 17 beds and accepts male patients.

There were ten patients residing in the hospital at the time of inspection.

Inspectors visited the service in May 2019 and found significant issues with the quality of the care, support and environment of the service.

The hospital was rated ‘inadequate’ in terms of safety, resposiveness and leadership, and ‘requires improvement’ for being effective and caring.

The inspection found staff at the hospital had imposed a number of restrictions on patients, such as not allowing them to use a mobile telephone, camera or tablet unless supervised by staff.

Patients were also not allowed to use ceramic crockery, to hold keys for their bedrooms or to access some parts of the building. Six patients were routinely denied access to their own possessions. These blanket restrictions were applied without having made individual assessments of the risks posed to individual patients. The CQC therefore concluded that the service had inadequate systems and processes around restrictive practices.

An alert was raised by inspectors following the visit, after two carers identified unexplained injuries to a patient. Inspectors observed several interactions between staff and the people they supported and found nearly half of them were poor. People had to repeat themselves to get attention and some staff did not interact or engage with people when they were directly supporting them.

Inspectors reviewed staff files which showed one incident where an inappropriate restraint technique had been used and two episodes where staff members were found asleep on duty. The provider had acted appropriately in response to the incidents.

‘On this inspection we found that people were not receiving safe care, their dignity was not respected and they were not treated with compassion,’ said Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC. ‘The environment was poorly maintained, risks to people’s safety were not addressed and we observed a disinterested attitude from some staff to the people they were meant to be caring for.’

‘We raised immediate concerns with the provider following the inspection and took enforcement action requiring the service to act on our findings to ensure people were kept safe from avoidable harm,’ Baker continued. ‘We are now working with NHS England and other bodies responsible for commissioning care who are supporting people to access alternative care arrangements whilst Cygnet work on adapting the service.’

A spokesperson for Cygnet Newbus Grange, said: ‘Following the CQC inspection in May this year we responded rapidly to strengthen managerial oversight and implement a comprehensive action plan to address the issues raised.

‘Since then the hospital’s new management has continued to work closely with the CQC, as well as with service users, staff and those who commission our care services, to ensure we act upon the report’s recommendations.

‘Whilst we are disappointed in the findings of this inspection, particularly because the CQC had rated the service ‘outstanding’ only five months previously, we remain committed to implementing the very best standards and quality of care. Where we believe we need to enhance our services to better meet evolving patient needs, we will always act quickly to make the necessary improvements and investment required.’